Euros 2020: Hundreds of fans still to fly to Wales' games

By Ben Price
BBC News

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media captionHundreds of football fans are getting ready to watch Wales play in Baku

Hundreds of Welsh fans are expected in Azerbaijan for Wales' opening Euro 2020 match, despite travel guidance.

Thousands were due to fly to the capital Baku this week for the start of the tournament, which has been delayed by a year because of the pandemic.

Wales play Switzerland in Baku on Saturday, Turkey on Wednesday, and the Italians in Rome the following Sunday.

Azerbaijan and Italy are on the UK and Welsh governments' amber lists, meaning you should not travel there.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and the Football Association of Wales have called on fans not to go to the matches.

Before returning to Wales, they will need to take a PCR test, and then quarantine at home for 10 days.

image captionJames Robinson said he had had doubts about going to the games

Fan James Robinson, 44, is planning to fly directly to Baku from Cardiff on Friday.

He has tickets for all three of Wales' group matches but said he was likely to only attend the games against Switzerland and Turkey in Baku due to quarantine rules in Italy.

Italy requires travellers to self-isolate for 10 days if they do not have proof of a negative test, and inform the region they are travelling to of their visit.

"I had plenty of doubts. I wasn't really sure it was going to happen until last week. I think my friend and I talked our way into it and thought, 'let's go and do it'," he said.

"We've got to get a private PCR test and get the result before we arrive in Baku. They also need proof of the tickets for the Euros and that's how you get the visa for entry."

According to the Foreign Office, all passengers travelling to Azerbaijan will require a negative Covid-19 test.

Ticketholders for matches scheduled in Baku will qualify for a quarantine exemption if they present proof of a recent negative result.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionSome Welsh fans will still attend Saturday's game in Baku despite Azerbaijan being on the amber list

Other visitors will still need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Most businesses including restaurants and cafes are open in Azerbaijan and mask wearing is only mandatory indoors.

Mr Robinson said: "It's obviously going to be a lot smaller scale than 2016. We're expecting maybe around 500 fans out there. But I'm sure we'll all stick together and make plenty of noise in the stadium."

image captionRichard Collier said he could not imagine the games with an empty stadium

Richard Collier, 37, from Aberdare, is flying to Baku via Kiev in Ukraine with two friends.

"There have been a few times when we thought we might not go due to different restrictions, or it gets cancelled again," he said.

"But now we've got to this point we're adamant we're getting out there no matter what happens."

Despite the advice not to travel, Mr Collier said he hoped the players appreciated the efforts of those who will be in the stadium on Saturday.

image copyrightRhys Hartley
image captionRhys Hartley (left) is hoping to make all the games he is planning on attending

Rhys Hartley, 27, lives in the Serbian capital Belgrade and is travelling to Baku via Istanbul in Turkey.

He hopes to be able to return to Belgrade following the match against Turkey in preparation for a trip to Italy the following Sunday.

"Hopefully, we can make it to Rome as well and then hopefully see Wales in the knock-out stages. If that game is in the UK then it might be more difficult to make it due to the restrictions, so perhaps a last-16 match in somewhere like the Netherlands will be better for us," he said.

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